Arch Catches Up to Bonhomme in Barcelona Qualifying

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IOctober 3, 2009

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - AUGUST 19:  (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) In this handout image provided by Red Bull Air Race, Austrian pilot Hannes Arch flies the course during the qualifying session of the fourth round of the 2009 Red Bull Air Race World Championship on August 19, 2009 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Tom Lovelock/Red Bull Air Race via Getty Images).

Hannes Arch (AUT) appears to have found his mojo again! The Austrian flew a very disciplined qualifying round to take pole position, take a crucial championship point, and narrow the gap to Paul Bonhomme (GBR) to three points. Arch has a grand total of 52 points against Bonhomme's 55.

The best case scenario is that Arch wins and Bonhomme not take a position higher than fourth if the Austrian has any hope of defending his championship. Basically, Arch needs to stay four points ahead of Bonhomme since if they tie, the Brit will take the championship on countback since he's been on the podium more often.

The complicated Barcelona track is a fitting finale for the 2009 season of the Red Bull Air Race and with two gates being in close proximity to each other, a lot of mistakes were bound to happen - with a grand total of five gate touches happening and many more incorrect knife flying (IKF).

This being Alejandro Maclean's home race, the Spaniard wasn't able to capitalize too well and qualified 10th overall in his MXS. This will be the last time he is flying this MXS and will be acquiring a new one for next season - according to an interview that will be published next week.

The Wild card round will feature Glen Dell (RSA), Yoshi Muroya (JPN), Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS), Pete McLeod (CAN) and Mike Mangold (USA).

McLeod believed earlier this week that he would be able to get at least one more championship point to his name, but now he's going to have to fight to make it into the Top 12 and see what will happen from there.

Further up the field, Matthias Dolderer (GER) has kept himself in fifth place while Red Bull duo Kirby Chambliss (USA) and Peter Besenyei (HUN) qualified in ninth and eighth places respectively.

Matt Hall of Australia is impressing everyone and has been able to qualify in third place just behind Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) and ahead of Bonhomme, but the final ranking will be what counts.

The rankings for tomorrow is as follows:

  1. Hannes Arch (AUT) - Edge 540: 1:21.06
  2. Nicolas Ivanoff (FRA) - Edge 540: +1.10
  3. Matt Hall (AUS) - MXS: +1.43
  4. Paul Bonhomme (GBR) - Edge 540: +1.69
  5. Matthias Dolderer (GER) - Edge 540: +2.01
  6. Nigel Lamb (GBR) - MXS: +2.33
  7. Michael Goulian (USA) - Edge 540: +2.73
  8. Peter Besenyei (HUN) - MXS: +3.51
  9. Kirby Chambliss (USA) - Edge 540: +3.94
  10. Alejandro Maclean (ESP) - MXS: +4.08
  11. Mike Mangold (USA) - Edge 540: +4.38
  12. Pete McLeod (CAN) - Edge 540: +5.39
  13. Sergey Rakhmanin (RUS) - MXS: +5.39
  14. Yoshi Muroya (JPN) - Edge 540: +7.86
  15. Glen Dell (RSA) - Edge 540: +16.19

In less than 24 hours, a new champion will be crowned or a defending one will retain it. Who can win it in the end?